Group 3 comp extended

GROUP Three Rugby League's general committee has agreed to extend the competition by a week.

This means the grand final will now be played on Sunday, September 14.

The group will play a split round for round 13.

This would enable the Taree City/Forster-Tuncurry game to go ahead. The clash was originally postponed from June 21. Initially the match was scheduled for Saturday, June 21 but then the group put all games back to the Sunday as North Coast was involved in the Country championship final on June 21.

However a shortage of referees resulted in the group switching the game back to the Saturday as neither club had players involved in the representative fixture. The Hawks then said they wouldn't have adequate players to play Saturday, the Bulls said the same thing about playing Sunday.

Group Three then switched the match to this Saturday, which was initially a split round. But the Bulls objected saying they would have had problems fielding any grades as players were unavailable. Players had made arrangements to go away on the assumption they had a free weekend as the original draw stated, the club said.

The game will now go ahead on Saturday, August 9. Group Three's final competition round will be played on August 16 with the opening week of the semi-finals on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, which is also Taree Gold Cup day.

Group Three secretary Barrie Smith said Wingham and Old Bar were the only clubs to have problems with the decision to put the competition back and this was because of bookings for presentation nights.

Wingham's presentation is on September 19. This would have been the new date for the group presentation.

However, Group Three's presentation will now be held on Friday, September 26 at the Wingham Services Club.

Old Bar's award night was set for September 13. Club delegates said they will now book another date.

"None of the northern clubs had any problems with (the competition) going back a week,'' Mr Smith said.

The possibility of playing the Taree City/Forster-Tuncurry game mid-week was also aired however, the Bulls had concerns that this would not be financially viable as the match would have to be shifted to another ground because the Jack Neal Oval doesn't have lights.

Mr Smith pointed out this is the fifth time the draw has had to be changed this year for varying reasons.

"It won't be ever happening again,'' he said.

The group's management committee has also decided that no grand finals will be played at Kempsey.

The committee has concerns about a lack of parking in and around the Verge Street complex along with a lack of space within the ground. Macleay Valley currently leads the competition and if the Mustangs win the major semi- final and so earn the right to host the grand final, they will be given a choice of venues. The grand final will be played at a neutral ground, prbably either Wauchope or Port Macquarie.

Meanwhile after having a weekend off, the Wingham Tigers return to the field on Saturday when they tackle Taree City at the Jack Neal Oval. This will be part of a fund raising day for Can Teen.

Wingham's next home game will be on Saturday July 19 against third placed Old Bar Pirates.